Posted June 1, 2021

The incidence of the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, has been on a steady incline over the past 20 years. In 2021, there will be an estimated 106,110 new cases of melanoma in the United States (5.6% of all new cancer cases).1 Melanoma, if caught early, has a high rate of survival, while regional and distant spread significantly decreases survival. Once the cancer metastasizes, the 5-year survival drops to 29%. Even with the promise of immunotherapy advances, melanoma is still a deadly disease, with over 7,000 cancer deaths expected in 2021. Preventing melanoma from initiation or progression leads to better chance of survival.

In Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) the Melanoma Research Program (MRP) introduced a new opportunity to tackle melanomagenesis early in the disease progression while establishing a network for early career investigators to interact with established leaders in the field. Through the Melanoma Academy Leadership Award and the Melanoma Academy Scholar Award, the MRP hopes to influence the next generation of melanoma researchers by catalyzing the growth and professional development of the Scholars through the interactive collaborative network of the Melanoma Academy (MA). The MA will provide intensive mentoring, national networking, collaborations, and a peer group for early career independent faculty (Scholars).

Fiscal Year 2021 Melanoma Research Program Academy
Structure of the FY21 Melanoma Academy
(Director and Deputy Director will be the MA Leadership)

Partnering together, the Director and Deputy Director of the Melanoma Academy Leadership Award will lead the Scholars, along with their Career Guides, toward a new vision of melanoma research. By integrating the Scholars, their Career Guides, and patient advocates into one community, the MA provides a potential for novel brainstorming approaches to melanoma and supportive collaborations for Scholars to ensure the next generation of advancements. The MA will provide a platform for Scholars to collaborate with leaders in the melanoma field and advance research for melanoma patients.

The opportunity of leadership cannot be overstated. The Director and Deputy Director positions offer the candidates exposure in the melanoma field, establishment of leadership in melanoma research, and strong influence in the future, training, and research for the Scholars, who represent the best of the next generation of melanoma researchers. The MA is a virtual career and research platform. The Academy Director and Deputy Director catalyze the growth and professional development of the Scholars in collaboration with their Career Guides, assess the progress of the Scholars, and facilitate communication and collaboration among all Academy members. In addition, the MA includes mid-career investigators within the period of performance to broaden the outreach of the Academy as well as linking the field into a cohesive successful network. The MA will give Scholars opportunities to operate in a collegial, highly dynamic, and cutting-edge center to lead melanoma research to a new frontier.

In addition to the career platform the MA represents, the Director and Deputy Director will have the chance to select pilot research projects for the Scholars, Career Guides, and leaders to collaborate for future advancements in melanoma.

Exploiting the precedent set by the Ovarian Cancer Research Program in FY09 to fund The Ovarian Cancer Academy (, the MRP is offering this unique award for leaders in melanoma research to transform the field. The MA offers an extraordinary opportunity for established investigators to lead a network of highly qualified Scholars from diverse research backgrounds and to set their Vision of the future of melanoma research.

Investigators interested in applying to lead the future of melanoma research should apply to the FY21 Melanoma Academy Leadership Award program announcement (W81XWH-21-MRP-MALA).

Early-career independent investigators interested in applying to become a Scholar of the MA should refer to the FY21 MRP Melanoma Academy Scholar Award program announcement (W81XWH-21-MRP-MASA).

Mid-career independent investigators interested in applying to the Mid-Career Accelerator Award program announcement (W81XWH-21-MRP-MCAA).

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